[Marxism] Fw: Supporting Every Anti-Imperialist Group?
donaloc at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 18 06:17:52 MST 2004
Firstly, I read both Louis' and Ed's responses and generally find myself
wanting to be in agreement with them - but I'm not.
I suspect my difficulties with the formulation of supporting *every and
any* anti-imperialist group arise because of my experience with so many
anti-imperialist groups - this comes from someone who feels himself to
live in a colony.
Thinking about it, it seems to me that the question is whether it is
acceptable for comrades in the imperialist centres to hold positions
which are so seriously detached from the positions of comrades on the
ground in the colonial areas e.g. for an example the Iraqi CP (and I'm
not saying I support their position - but just for argument's sake).
Surely the position of marxists should be coherent irrespective of where
we find ourselves? Whilst the perspective remains the same the tasks
(and strategies and slogans) might differ significantly - so I'm not
going that far. If this is the case then I think we need to come at it
from a much more judgemental perspective. If that is not the case, then
I really have to question of what importance/use is the fact that you
support a group at all.
Effectively, your position is localised to meet your own specific needs
but may not correspond to the needs of people on the ground elsewhere.
In other words, it's a very empty support - really only important from
your own perspective.
Furthermore, the justification for this position is that the primary
task is to defeat US imperialism and thereby capitalism generally.
Somehow, I don't feel that destroying US imperialism is the be-all and
end-all anyhow. It's much more than that. Although don't misquote me, it
would be huge leap forward. But enough of a leap forward for us to
encourage people to join or lend support to organisations which are
objectively reactionary? No. Not that important. Besides, the strategy
pushed by Louis and even Lou would seem to be one of 'containment' as
opposed to really going for the throat. What you seek is to lessen the
hegemony of imperialists at home at any cost - even if that cost is in
the lives of comrades abroad - which it might be in circumstances.
That seems to me poor marxism. It would owe more to the sort of thinking
with which the Stalinists justified handing Vietnam back to the French
(as it was in the greater interests of the Soviet Union at the time).
Surely, it would have been more correct for them to look at it and say
the interests of the Vietnamese came first and transcended the interests
of Soviet Diplomacy and war of maneuvre. Whilst not making that
comparison directly, the same utilitarian logic runs through what you're
espousing - if I take you up correctly.
Anyhow, I'll step through your text.
>What about the assessment we in the imperialist west make about the
strategy and methods of those engaging in the anti-imperialist struggle?
The way I see it is this. Even if it is the case that for Marxists the
only force that is capable of winning and guaranteeing anti-imperialist
goals is that which has most interest in winning and guaranteeing them -
the working class on a global scale - this does not mean that we raise
the political character of those waging the struggle as a _precondition_
for supporting them.
>Indeed, I suspected that this argument was related to the theory of
permanent revolution. I might ask, as an aside, whether the theory
admits to the possibility that petit-bourgeois (e.g. small farmers)
could also be conjoined to this formulation - as from my own perspective
they are often the most vigorous and trustworthy anti-imperialists and
often are okay with socialism as long as it doesn't affect their ability
to pass on their (small) pastures to the next generation.
Getting back to your email, I return to the problem of finding a course
which has international coherence - isn't that the real problem here? Is
there a duty on (progressive, free-thinking) marxists located in the USA
to advocate a position which dovetails into the functional realities of
(progressive, free-thinking) marxists in Iraq? I think that this is the
key question. Is it enough to say my enemy's enemy is my friend or do we
need to advocate something more? Even if we critique a movement overseas
we can still identify it as moving towards socialism generally and
support it on that basis.
> It is not in general miraculously revealed as
transparently obvious to anti-imperialist fighters that the path to
their liberation lies through the gate of socialist revolution.
Indeed. I think that we could even say that whilst those who have been
serious about the revolution know this, it is very difficult to get that
into a generalised consciousness. Again, as you say below, this will
come with the development and progress of consistent and expanding
anti-imperialist activity. But from a perspective on-the-ground, of what
use is national self-determination if it means that you'll be run by
domestic capitalists as opposed to overseas ones. It means much more.
> This is something that is learned, or not learned, in struggle. The
most consistent anti-imperialists will learn this positively: it is not
question of either 'raising the green flag' or struggling to create a
government representative of the working class and farmers, it is (as
Néstor rightly keeps pointing out to us) that the only way to guarantee
the struggle to raise the green flag _is_ to struggle to create a
government representative of the working class and farmers (and this is
what 'permanent revolution' really is: real permanent revolution, not
the sad, impossibilist 'socialism now' parody of it that gets paraded
about these days).
I have difficulties with the TPR - in short I think it's almost
tautological and too reductionist. What we can agree on, however, is
that fact that national liberation in its fullest sense must mean
socialism - for
internal and external reasons.
> That this will be learned or not learned will be a
practical question (as it has been historically), in the struggle; that
groups in the west want to make some formal commitment to socialism a
precondition for support of anti-imperialist groups in struggle (and I'm
not accusing Domhnall of this, of course) shows just how abstract and
tenuous their own conception of socialism, and how we get there, really
It seems to me that the position of only recognising socialist
anti-imperialists would be akin to the theory of Permanent Revolution
deciding one's position on anti-imperialist struggle (which is the point
you are making - I think). But I'm not saying that - a group might be
objectively progressive without adhering to
socialism as an ideology - in the imperialist centres or elsewhere - as
you say that will, or will not, develop with the struggle. But not every
group acting against imperialism is worthy of support either. That's
really what I'm trying to argue. For me, that's relatively obvious
coming from Ireland. Perhaps people will understand. The issue, then, is
whether there is a need to harmonise the position on struggles.
The equivalent questions on Iraq would be: Do we support the Shia
resistance? Do we support the Kurdish resistance? Do we support the
Baathist resistance? Do we support ex-army resistance? And how do we
expect marxists living in Iraq to support and engage with these groups?
Is that what we mean when we say we support them? Or does it mean 'We
oppose our own imperialists'.
More information about the Marxism